Target: Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General World Health Organization
Goal: Pressure governments misappropriating funds intended for healthcare initiatives to prioritize public health
Government leaders from a number of countries seem to profit while their public health initiatives and institutions come up financially short, resulting in unfit treatment of their citizens. In consideration of the recent Ebola outbreak plaguing African countries, it is time for the United Nations to stop turning their head away from these misappropriations affecting the well-being of nations.
While multitudes of people in countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are facing the threat of the Ebola virus, in many African countries monies that should have gone to public health initiatives have been spent elsewhere. While hospitals and healthcare workers are not receiving payment or medical supplies, some countries have instead chosen frivolous spending as their alternative.
In 2010 the World Bank coined the phrase ‘quiet corruption’ to note why some of these countries’ health systems are failing. Priority is given to lavish expenditures such as Senegal’s $27 million dollar bronze statue or the $250,000 spent on a birthday party for Zimbabwe’s president. In the meantime, the public is reliant on healthcare systems without supplies they were promised. Without adequate sanitation provisions and medication, these buildings become a repository for those in dire health circumstances. Why would anyone consider going to one of these treatment centers and risk catching something even more dangerous simply because the staff cannot treat or isolate extreme cases?
In 2001 members of the African Union pledged to the Abuja Declaration, promising that health budgets would be raised to 15 percent of public expenditures. As of 2011 the members fell far short of this plan with only six countries meeting this commitment. Now there is an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus.
The widespread contagion is bringing attention to the shortage of adequate health facilities and staff needed to contain it. Doctors Without Borders has sent over 300 staff members and 40 tons of equipment to 60 locations where the virus has manifested and they don’t think it is going to be enough.
Now, more than ever, attention must be given to improving the health circumstances in these countries. The finances are not reaching the medical targets. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the arm of the United Nations set up specifically to deal with international health issues. Now is the time WHO really needs to take a stand with these countries and stress the importance of dedicated monies to health initiatives.
Dear Dr. Chan,
With the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, the immense shortage of adequately supplied and staffed medical facilities throughout Africa is taking its toll. Per the Abuja Declaration in 2001, members of the African Union pledged at least 15 percent of public monies to health funding and only six of these countries have met that goal.
If the current state of inadequate medical attention remains, the shortages currently felt in these countries will worsen if another contagion such as Ebola manifests again.
As the arm of the United Nations focused on international health, you must take a strong stance with these countries. They must stop pushing these health priorities to the recesses of their governments. The health of their nations, and all nations, depends on their compliance and the care of their citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jeffrey Gluck via Wikimedia Commons